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My husband is out of town.  I can say this because by the time you read this, he will be back.  He has also been uber-busy at work lately.  He generally works a lot, but the last couple of weeks have been exceptionally crazy.  So, it didn’t surprise me at all when last night, at about 10 o’clock, he says casually, “Hey, did I tell you I’m going to Vegas tomorrow?”.

Um, nope.  No, you didn’t.  He’s not so much into the details sometimes.

At least this is only a one night trip.  Not at all like the time I found out he was going to Brussels, Belgium because of some flight times I saw scribbled on the back of a grocery receipt he left sitting next to the laptop on the kitchen counter.  I know, I know, his communication skills are positively astounding.  In the end, his trip got cancelled anyway.  But, I’m getting a little off topic.

It just so happens that I had already made plans with some girlfriends to go out tonight.  I planned it carefully, so that the baby would already be asleep, and the boys would be fed, and in their jammies.

So, now I’m faced with a dilemma.  I could a) scrap my plans for a Girls Night Out (which honestly only happens every six months or so for me.  I know, I know, I need to work on that), or b) call my Mother-in-Law.  I do have a couple babysitters that I use, but now that school is in, they are busy with sports, boyfriends, part-time jobs, and oh, yes, school.

I decided it was important enough to me to give her a call, last-minute.  Turns out she was available and happy to do it.  I am a lucky woman.  Side note:  She also watched the kids one other time this week, and has plans to help me out twice next week.  Am I taking advantage? I hope not. But, possibly a little.

Not everyone has a great relationship with their Mother-in-Law, but after 14 years of marriage, here are a few secrets I will share with you about your Mother-in-Law:

1.  She really does want to help.

So, let her.  Let her hold the baby.  Let  her do a load of laundry.  Let her take the kids to the park.  She wants to do it, and it’s really okay.  Really.

2.  She has the best of intentions.

Yes, she may feed the baby at the wrong time.  Or not warm up the bottle enough.  She might even (gasp!) stop for an ice cream treat before dinner. She is not you.  She will not do things exactly as you do.  But, if you give her instructions, she’ll do her best.  She doesn’t intentionally sabotage your children’s sleep schedule.  She’s finding her way in this whole Grandmother thing, just like you’re finding out who you are as a Mom.  And, she’s waited her whole life to be a Grandmother, so cut her a little slack.  Even if it’s a really, really small amount of slack.

3.  She loves her son and her grandchildren.  But, she loves you, too.

She loves you in a different way, and that love may change and grow over the years.  But, she loves you in a way that says “thank you for sharing your life with my son, and for letting me be a part of my grandchildren’s lives, too”.

4.  She appreciates a Thank You.

It’s easy to take anyone for granted.  I think it’s especially easy to take your Mother-in-Law for granted.  So, remember to appreciate the good things she does.  Even if it’s sandwiched in between things that frustrate you.  She’s a good person.  See Numbers 1 and 2, above.

5.  She has more life experience than you.

This one might be hard to swallow for some, especially if your Mother-in-Law is one who is constantly offering up advice, or insinuating that her way is better.  But, it is true.  She’s been married longer, and even though her children aren’t little any more, she’s been a Mom longer, too.  So, listen to her advice, and allow it to sink in a little.  No one says you have to follow it.  But, you never know what you might learn if you’re open to it.

I mean, maybe she really does have a terrific chicken recipe that’s easy and delicious (and if your husband likes it, you can just wink and say, “I know, yum, right?! It’s just a new recipe I’ve been wanting to try”). Or you can give her credit, if you’re feeling generous.  Men usually don’t care too much about that kind of thing anyway.  Either way, it’s a win-win.  Or, if you’re Michael Scott, a win-win-win.

6.  She knows you hold the cards.  And, she appreciates that you put up with her son.

It’s true.  You have a lot of power in this relationship.  And, he is the boy she raised: the good, and all.the.faults.  See paragraph 3, above.

Anyone else want to chime in?? Come on, put me in my place. 🙂

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I had lunch with one of my best friends on Sunday . . . from Junior High.  Yup, that’s right.  We used to have sleepovers and listen to Madonna (okay, I still do that), and dance around in our pajamas.  That was only . . . wait, still counting . . . 22 years ago.  That simply doesn’t seem possible.

We thought and thought, and finally decided the last time we had seen each other was circa 1999.  That was still a staggering 12 years ago.  In that length of time, she’s become a highly successful manager,  and I’ve had two careers and three kids.  I am sometimes amazed at how life moves us around, based on our decisions, and sometimes not, and people move in and out of our lives.  She and I were very close, like almost-had-a-two-piece-“best friends”-necklace kind of close.  Except we weren’t that lame.  So, how did we drift apart and not even know where the other was for 12 whole years?

The simple and best answer is:  life.  She went to another state for college, and we just lost touch.  When you’re young, you don’t really know the value of a true friendship.  All of your friends seem pretty great when you’re 13.  And 18.

So, you’re dying to know, how did we reconnect?  I won’t keep you in suspense.  The fact that my mom reads the local paper cover to cover (I am not kidding, she cuts out the “funny” police blotter lines and mails them to me with the coupons she clips) finally paid off.  Her name and home address (eeek!) were in the local paper under the fictitious business license listings.  My mom called me up with the big news, and I actually sat down and wrote her a letter.  A real, on-paper-with-a-pen letter, and put a stamp on the envelope.  Then I waited.  And, waited.  A few weeks later she called me up.

We talked for an hour.  We laughed so hard we cried, and did as much catching up as you can do in 60 lightening-speed minutes.  We swore we’d keep in touch.  Then another year went by, and we didn’t.  Why?  I suppose her busy, successful career, and my K.I.D.S.!!!  Then, on a whim, I just sent her a text and suggested getting together.  Within an hour we were planning our reunion.

Let me tell you the people at Max’s Restaurant must have wanted to swat us with a broom.  We sat down at 2pm for lunch.  The next time I looked at the time was 4:22pm.  At 6:24 pm I noticed we had outlasted the lunch crowd, and people hungry for dinner were filling up the tables next to us.  I also noticed that I was thirsty.  The servers had apparently stopped serving us anything to drink about three hours before.  Umm, hint?

I called my babysitter (aka Grandpa and Grandma) and asked if I could stay out past curfew.  We moved on to dessert somewhere else, because we just weren’t done gabbing.  And gossiping (did you hear about her?  do you know what happened to him? . . .you know, the usual).

All I can say is it was fab.  She hasn’t changed a bit.  She is still wicked-funny, uber-smart, and tells it like it is.

So, I say, bring on the meeting up with old friends (as long as they’re the real deal, there truly aren’t that many people I have lost touch with that I miss) and bring on the meeting of new friends (hello, Preschool Moms!).  Life is an evolution, and we’re only here for a short time.  Grab the rope and take a swing!!

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